Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Clegg claims Labour should not rule if it comes third in votes

The author may be reading a bit into what Clegg says but it would seem to imply that he would not form a coalition with Labour but no doubt Clegg will wait for the results before he really makes any firm commitment to anything. It seems that the British electorate is not about to give any party a clear majority to govern. Canada has had a minority government for some time now. It seems to muddle through especially now when no party can see a majority if they defeat the government only another situation with about the same distribution of seats! This is from abc(Australia)

Clegg hints at Conservative coalition
By Europe correspondent Philip Williams

British Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg Clegg finally made it clear it is the votes, not seats, that count. (Reuters: Andrew Winning)

With just 11 days to go before Britain's election, the leader of the Liberal Democrats, Nick Clegg, is finally laying the ground rules for a possible coalition government.

Up until recently the idea of either the Tories or Labour sharing power with a third party at Westminster would have been considered absurd, but it is shaping up as a possibility.

Mr Clegg's Liberal Democrats, who have surged from third to second place in opinion polls after he performed strongly in TV debates, are unlikely to win enough votes to form a government after the tight battle.

But the race is now so tight that the Liberal Democrats could hold the balance of power in a hung parliament - where no party wins an overall majority - and team up with Labour or the Conservatives to govern.

The Liberal Democrats have never said which party they would support in the event of a hung parliament.

The big question was whether the criteria would be the biggest number of seats or the largest number of votes.

Because of the way the Labour vote is clustered in urban seats, it is possible for that party to win the most seats but not the most votes.

But today Mr Clegg finally made it clear it is the votes, not seats, that count.

"It's just preposterous, the idea that if a party comes third in terms of the number of votes, it still somehow has the right to continue swatting at Number 10 [Downing Street] and continue to lay claim to having the prime minister form the government," he said.

"What I'm saying here is pointing at a very, very irrational possible outcome of our potty electoral system, which is that a party which has spectacularly lost the election because fewer and fewer people are voting for it than any other party, can nonetheless, according to constitutional tradition and convention, still lay claim to providing the prime minister."

That is bad news for prime minister Gordon Brown because his Labour party is trailing in the polls. If they do not shift he will be jobless come May 7.

Mr Brown has promised a referendum to replace the first-past-the-post system with the Australian-style proportional representation.

But the promise has been seen by some as an attempt to curry favour with the Liberal Democrats, because they would prosper under an Australian-style system.

On current polls, it is David Cameron's Conservatives who will benefit from the Liberal Democrats' decision to go with the votes rather than the seats.

Mr Cameron says he is determined to win outright, something he emphasised at a rally calling for better schools.

"Hung parliament, hung councils, they don't get things done," he said.

"You need people with the right values, the right ideas, to set people free to give them their chance to set up a great school.

"This is a perfect example of why a decisive, authoritative result would be much better for our schools, much better for our country, and that's what we're fighting for every day until polling day.

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